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Which Resume Format You Choose Determines Your Salary

You’ve found a job that appeals to you, but you want to ensure that you get paid the appropriate amount for doing the job. After all, it’s great to do what you love. But it’s even better when you’re being paid well for doing it.

The problem is one that you may have seen many times over – the listing doesn’t state a salary.

That’s not uncommon – fewer than 50% of job postings have a salary listed – but it’s no less frustrating when all you want to know is how much you’ll get paid. But perhaps you can change your thinking. Rather than seeing a lack of salary information as an irritancy, view it as an opportunity to design a modern and award-winning resume that helps you earn what you deserve.


By understanding how your resume format determines your salary.

images of two resumes side by side with the words "Choosing The Right Resume Format"

Start by Understanding How Employers Determine Salaries

In an illuminating post on LinkedIn, Compensation and Negotiation Strategist Olivia Jaras outlined the three main factors employers use when determining the salary they’ll offer a candidate. Crucially, she points out that these factors are essentially the magnifying glass that a hiring manager uses to comb through your resume.

The factors are as follows:

  1. Position Description

  2. The Market

  3. Internal Equity

In short – you put your value on paper.

1. Position Description

The first of these magnifying glasses is the position description. Here, the hiring manager stacks up what you’ve written in your resume against the position as described in their job listing. Does the experience you’ve shared match the position? How new – or experienced – are you with this type of role? Not only is a recruiter looking for evidence that you understand the role in question, but they’re going to pick apart the wording you use to help them put a dollar figure on your value.

2. The Market

How easy is it to find people with your skills in the current recruitment market?

That’s the question a hiring manager asks when they turn this magnifying glass to your resume. The skills and qualifications that you share are their barometer for determining not only whether you’re a good fit but how well you stack up to people who work in a similar role. The rule here is simple:

The better your resume highlights how qualified you are, the more leverage you have in salary negotiations.

Of course, the inverse is also true. A role for which there are many qualified applicants will give the hiring manager leeway to lower their salary offer. It’s simple supply and demand economics at play.

3. Internal Equity

The final magnifying glass sees the hiring manager look inward. They’ll stack you up against people who already work for the company in a similar position. In doing so, they’ll examine the salaries of those people – as well as the qualifications they bring to the table – to help determine what they should offer to you.

Think of it as using what’s already there as a baseline for what they want to bring in. How well your resume communicates your abilities relative to that baseline helps to determine the salary offer.

woman sitting in front of a computer with the words on the screen that says "Resume"

Your Resume Format Relating to the Three Factors

With the three major determinants of salary established, your next step is to format your resume so that it’ll shine when a hiring manager places one of these magnifying glasses over it. Often, it’s just simple tweaks to your resume that’ll make all the difference.

Formatting Tip 1 – Focus on Position Description Accountabilities

Let’s say you’re applying for a project management role.

Does the position description call for somebody to “lead” a project management team or “oversee” a team?

The two terms seem interchangeable, but they imply different roles in project management. “Lead” suggests that the employer wants somebody who knows how to get into the weeds of the team. They need a candidate who can guide other team members, establish project goals, and keep the smaller picture stuff working the way it should.

“Oversee” implies a bigger picture approach, suggesting the candidate should be somebody who can keep tabs on how the team’s doing without directly working with them on achieving a goal.

It’s a subtle difference, but it can make all the difference in your salary offer. Failing to match the position description suggests that you don’t have all the skills necessary, leading to a lower offer. So, when it comes to formatting, the advice is simple:

Identify the key accountabilities in the job listing and ensure they’re mentioned when you discuss your work experience.

Formatting Tip 2 – Emphasize Your Hard Skills

For the “Market” magnifying glass, you can’t control the skills or qualifications that other candidates bring to the table. But you can control how you express your own skills on your resume. This is especially crucial in technical roles, such as IT, given that over 80% of recruiters in this field believe your hard skills are more important than soft skills.

The tip here is to eliminate the soft skill fluff and focus on hard skills that demonstrate how qualified you are for the role. Sticking with the IT example, a programmer should emphasize the languages they use and the qualifications they have for each of those languages. Each qualification is an extra bit of leverage you can use to attract a higher salary.

This approach also helps with the “Internal Equity” factor. The better you focus your list of qualifications on the role, the stronger you’ll appear compared to others in the organization who work in a similar role.

magnifying glass over a resume with the image of an exclamation mark

Resume Formatting Can Make a Huge Difference

The takeaway here is twofold:

Your ability to describe your skills appropriately while matching your resume to the position description determines the salary you’ll attract for a role.

When it comes to formatting, your focus lies on getting the key information in early. A personal statement at the beginning of the document is a great place to highlight your skills and slip in mentions of the position description as they relate to your experience. The same goes for each job role you list – each is a place to highlight how well you fit the position.

Of course, writing a strong resume isn’t simple, which is why you might need a professional resume formatting service to tip the scales in your favor. Expert Resume Pros ensures your resume features the formatting that makes hiring managers open their wallets. Try us today – we guarantee an interview in 45 days or your money back.

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